Booker T. Washington and the Reconstruction Period

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In the late 19th century, at the end of the Reconstruction, the country was forced to face that the measures to reconstruct the country had failed, and more importantly, terror on Blacks in the South had become worse than ever. This had begun to be a time when Blacks were separated from Whites by Jim Crow laws, forced into debt by the sharecropping system, lynched daily, and painted as murderers, rapists, intellectually inferior, and all around immoral. Many white southerners were still angry after the civil war and resented blacks, they’re only goal was to keep the black race down, and used many different tactics such as the Ku Klux Klan’s reign of terror, literacy tests and intimidation to keep Blacks from voting, and harsh “Black Codes” that largely restricted Blacks.

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Alternately, though Northern cities did not see a large Black population increases until 1915, there was still segregation, an increase in labor competition among urban poor intensified the conflict, and many help the belief that they were superior to the black race (Bufalino, lecture 3, slide 10). There was still no definite way on how to achieve racial equality. Though Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois made valiant efforts to lift their race, Washington’s approach was much more practical and attainable in the harsh realities of the United States. Booker T. Washington’s approach to future equality for the Black race was better fit for the historical conditions and attitudes, because his moderate approach allowed for increased White support, and slowly lifted up the entire class through industrial education that would lead them out of debt and achieve self-sufficiency.

Booker T. Washington and W.E.B. DuBois, two highly regarded Black men, rose up to take on the challenge of lifting the entire African-American race. Booker T. Washington was born a slave in Virginia in 1856, after emancipation he worked for his father on a coal mine and then pursued a secondary (industrial) education at the Hampton Institute, and eventually founded Tuskegee Institute, teaching industrial education (Harlan). On the other hand, W.E.B. DuBois was born free in 1868 in Massachusetts, educated at Fisk University and Harvard, and later became a teacher at Atlanta University (Hill).

Having been born a slave, Washington had a much better understanding of the harsh conditions of the South. He had the more moderate approach of the two, he believed in accommodation, industrial education, and self-help. He reasoned that blacks should accept discrimination for the time being and focus on bettering themselves and earning the respect of whites through patience and hard work. Alternatively, W.E.B. DuBois directly opposed accommodation, and instead demanded immediate citizenship and civil rights, including the right to a proper education, in order to achieve racial equality. Though Dubois’s demands were the optimal choice for the black race, Washington’s approach to achieving racial equality was much more realistic for the times.

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Booker T. Washington and The Reconstruction Period. (2019, Sep 07). Retrieved from